WHMIS Symbols & Their Meanings

Labels are one of the most important components of WHMIS. Each label will include the product name, supplier name, whmis symbols, signal word, hazard statement(s), precautionary statement and supplemental label information. If you have not yet read our WHMIS Explained (Part One) blog post, you can do so here.

The pictogram is the first thing you will notice on the label, and with WHMIS Training, the user will immediately know the hazard associated with that product. Most of the time a pictogram is a red square border and inside that border there is a hazard symbol. With 10 different WHMIS symbols, each symbol will represent the potential hazard such as fire hazard, health hazard etc.

There are ten types of symbols in WHMIS, and they all are associated with specific classes and categories.

Here we have all the ten types of symbols, associated hazards, example and safe handling:

Symbol Name: Flame (Fire Hazard)

fire hazard symbol
This material can easily ignite and can burn very quickly. Examples are propane and gasoline.


  • Can burn at low temperature
  • Can cause fire if exposed to flame, spark or friction

Safe Handling

  • Keep away from heat to other source of spark or flame
  • Do not smoke near these products
  • Keep the container tightly closed

WHMIS Symbol Name: Flame Over Circle (Oxidizing Hazard)

Flame over circle oxidizing hazard
These materials do not burn themselves but gives of oxygen and increasing the likelihood of combustible material around them to catch fire. Examples are hydrogen peroxide and chlorine.


  • Can cause fire if in contact with combustible material
  • Can explode or cause explosion when in contact with flammable

Safe Handling:

  • Avoid any type of shock and friction
  • Store this material in cool place
  • Keep them away from heat, combustible and flammable materials

WHMIS Symbol Name: Exploding Bomb (Explosion Hazard)

explosion hazard symbol
These materials can be explosive if they are not handled carefully. Example are nitroglycerin and grain dust.


  • These materials are extremely sensitive to heat, friction and static electricity.
  • Explosion can cause big risk for serious injury or death.

Safe Handling:

  • These types of material should be handled by professional.
  • Do not smoke near these products
  • Keep the container tightly closed

WHMIS Symbol Name: Gas Cylinder (Compressed Gas Hazard)

compressed gas hazard symbol
These types of materials are under high pressure and will be sensitive to puncture or any type of leaks. Examples are fire extinguisher and propane.


  • Compressed gas can cause severe burns from frostbite.
  • Can explode if dropped, heated and exposed to different temperature.

Safe Handling:

  • When transporting or handing they must be secured, and flashback arrestor must be used.
  • Do not drop or expose to any type of heat source.
  • Keep the container tightly closed and ensure that all the valves are properly closed.

WHMIS Symbol Name: Skull and Crossbones (Poison Hazard)

poison hazard symbol
These types of material have the potential to be fatal, toxic and extremely harmful even if you are exposed for a short period of time. Example are hydrogen sulphide and strychnine cyanide.


  • Highly poisonous and immediately dangerous to life and health.
  • Can cause permanent damage to some body organs if inhaled, ingested or enters through the skin.

Safe Handling:

  • Do not breath gas or vapours, use your respiratory protective equipment when handing these types of products.
  • Avoid any type of direct skin contact.

WHMIS Symbol Name: Corrosion

corrosion hazard symbol
These types of materials can chemically react with other producst or to the skin. It can cause irritation to eyes and skin and cause severe and permanent damage. Examples are sulphuric acid and caustic soda.


  • Can cause eye and skin irritation and when exposed to them.
  • Can cause severe tissue damage when exposed for longer period of time.

Safe Handling:

  • Avoid any type of direct skin contact, always use personal protective equipment.
  • Use respiratory protection when handling these products.

WHMIS Symbol Name: Exclamation Mark

exclamation mark symbol
These types of material can cause less serious health effects such as irritation, inflammation, and coughing. It can also damage the ozone layer. Examples are wood dust and battery chargers.


  • Can cause irritation or inflammation of the skin when exposed.
  • Can cause irritation of the respiratory tract if inhaled.

Safe Handling:

  • Wash your skin and hand thoroughly after handling.
  • Store these products in well ventilated area and keep the container tightly closed.

WHMIS Symbol Name: Health Hazard

health hazard symbol
These types of material can cause chronic health effects such as cancer, infertility and more. Examples are asbestos and silica.


  • Short term exposure can cause skin and eye irritation.
  • Long term effect can cause cancer and respiratory sensitization.

Safe Handling:

  • Keep products cool and dry and in well ventilated areas.
  • Do not store on high cabinet or high shelves.
  • Keep the container tightly closed when not in use or empty.

WHMIS Symbol Name: Environment

These types of material should be kept out of water sources because they can pose serious harm to the aquatic life such as fish, algae and aquatic plants. Examples are crude oil and nuclear waste.


  • Long term effect can cause the bioaccumulation and degradation.
  • It can reduce the spawning, genetic problem in offspring and behavioral changes in the aquatic life.

Safe Handling:

  • Use these products in small amount and avoid release in the environment.
  • Use secondary containment to prevent accident spill or leak.

WHMIS Symbol Name: Environment

biohazard symbol
These materials include bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause serious disease in persons and animals. Examples are HIV, Corona Virus.


  • Can cause serious illness or death.

Safe Handling:

  • Avoid any type of direct skin contact.
  • Use personal protective equipment when handing these type of material.

If you have questions or concerns about WHMIS Training and the hazard symbols listed above, reach out to our team of HSE experts here!

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